So simple Figs and Honeyed Goat Cheese

And there you have the recipe — that’s it! As many fresh calimyrna or black mission figs as you like, split open crosswise and stuffed with chèvre that has been sweetened with a tablespoon of raw honey. I try to keep the proportion of chèvre-to-honey at 1 Tbsp honey to 4 ounces of chèvre. And I sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on top of the stuffed figs. Divine! Makes for a lovely lunch, dessert, or addition to tea. Fresh figs are in stores now, and if you can’t find them, fresh apricots or pitted dates work equally well!

Potato Cakes with Chèvre and Herbs

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My mom made these all the time when I was growing up. But no herbs, no goat cheese, and no exotic appeal. Now you can better the “leftover mashed potatoes” side dish, with this recipe from Renee at Leite’s Culinaria. Thanks to her for the ingredients and the pic!

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sliced scallions, and any other herbs you wish
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  • 1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and pour in enough cold water to barely cover. Season the cooking water with salt (it should taste like the sea) and bring to a boil. Cook on medium-high heat until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, 10 to 15 minutes or so, depending on the size of your spuds. Drain the potatoes, place them in a large bowl, and roughly mash them with a fork or a potato masher. Let cool slightly.
  • 2. Add the parsley, scallions + finely chopped herbs, goat cheese, and salt and pepper to the potatoes and mix until just combined, making certain that chunks of goat cheese are still visible. Cover and refrigerate until chilled through, at least 6 hours.
  • 3. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • 4. Using your hands, form the mixture into a 1-inch-thick block on a lightly floured countertop and cut it into rectangular cakes about 2 1/2 inches along their long side or, if you prefer, use a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out individual potato cakes. You should have at least 12 cakes (and, quite possibly, more). Place the flour on a plate and lightly flour the cakes on both sides.
  • 5. Place 2 large ovenproof nonstick skillets (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Divide the oil between the skillets and heat until hot but not smoking. Add the potato cakes to the skillets and cook until the first side is golden brown. Flip the potato cakes and cook for another minute or so, and then transfer the skillets to the oven until the cakes are warmed through, about 10 minutes. Figure about 2 potato cakes per person.

Pogacsa (Hungarian Cheese Buns or Biscuits)

Our family adores bread, in practically any form. Especially warm bread. In biscuit or bun-size. So this recipe fits us to a T. And it’s a nice remembrance of our dear Hungarian daughter Szilvia, who lived with us in 1996-97. Thanks to The Baking Wizard for the recipe and photo…these will be featured at our upcoming Open House! Nums!

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Simple Cheese Pogácsa (Hungarian cheese buns)

Dough

1/2 cup whole milk, heated to 110-115 degrees F.

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon sugar

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, 20 ounces (dip dry measure into flour container, fill to overflowing and sweep off excess to level)

5 ounces finely shredded Gruyère or Gouda cheese, plus more for topping

1 tablespoon salt

2 large eggs

7 ounces (14 tablespoons; 1 3/4 sticks) softened unsalted butter

1/2 to 1 cup sour cream or Chèvre

Topping

1 egg yolk

Finely grated Gruyère or other cheese

1. Combine the milk, yeast, and sugar and let stand until yeast is softened, about 10 minutes.

2. In the large bowl of a stand mixer put the flour, cheese, salt, eggs, butter, softened yeast, and 1/2 cup sour cream. Mix on low speed with the flat beater until the dough masses on the blade. If the dough seems dry, add a bit more sour cream. Beat on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes. The dough should be nice and smooth and non-sticky.

3. Line a large baking sheet (17 x 12 inches) with parchment. Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position but do not turn the oven on.

4. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick (no thinner!) on a lightly floured surface. Make a shallow cross-hatched pattern with the point of a sharp knife all over the top of the dough and brush with the egg yolk. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and cut out rounds with a 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-inch diameter cutter. Use the palms of your hands to cup each circle of dough to smooth the sides.

5. Arrange the circles in rows about 1/4-inch apart. You’ll have 7 rows the short way and 9 rows the long way. Put the pan in the oven and turn the oven on to 400 degrees F. Bake about 25 minutes, until the pogácsa are nicely browned on their tops and bottoms. Cool completely and store airtight.

6. Pogácsa may also be frozen for up to 1 month. Reheat to refresh them.

Makes about 60 cheese Pogácsa. 

New Babies at Birchbark!

2014 brought us seven girls and three boys — the ratio doesn’t get any better than this! Our babies are so beautiful this year, just had to share them with you.

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They look as good from above as they do at eye-level!

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And they love to swarm George at feeding time.

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Oh man, that milk is soooo good!

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It’s so good, I am dripping milk foam everywhere!

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Mom, I want some more!

For anyone in or around Mason County, Michigan, come over and see the babies before they’re adopted out.

Just call us to make sure we’re home!

 

Herb and Olive Oil-Marinated Chevre Appetizer

You can really put any herbs in the olive oil that you wish, but this version is a classic. Leave them to marinate for at least a week. You can also bread them and gently fry them as hot hors d’oevres on toothpicks. Thanks to Williams-Sonoma for the recipe and picture. They will be featured at our members’ open house this year!

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Ingredients:

  • About 10 oz. firm fresh goat cheese, whole,
      sliced or formed into small balls
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Put the cheese in a dry, sterilized, lidded jar large enough for the cheese to be covered by the oil. Tuck in the bay leaves and sprinkle with the peppercorns, thyme and rosemary.

Pour the olive oil over the cheese and close the lid.

Store the cheese in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months. Once opened, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Chèvre and Goat Yogurt Cheesecake

We’re not huge fans of cheesecake, but this recipe is lighter than most and of course, we’re big fans of chèvre and goat yogurt. The added tang is a plus! The recipe and picture are in the files for those who adore this dessert, courtesy of SpoonForkBacon.

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Goat Cheese and Yogurt Cheesecake
Makes 1 8” cake

Ingredients:
crust:
1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (18-22 vanilla wafers)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
filling:
20 ounces goat cheese, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3cup superfine sugar (granulated is fine)
8 ounces (nonfat) Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons buttermilk, optional
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
garnish:
honey

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350˚.F
2. In a mixing bowl, combine crumbs and butter and stir until fully incorporated.
3. Line an 8” cake pan with parchment paper and very lightly grease pan.  Add crust mixture and press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
4. Place goat cheese, cream cheese and sugar into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well combined (you can also use a stand mixer).
5. Scrape down sides of bowl an add yogurt until just combined. With motor running add eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Stir in vanilla and beat until no lumps remain.
6. Pour filling over crust and smooth top (filling should reach the top of the pan).
7. Carefully place mixture into a roasting pan and place in the oven. Carefully pour warm/hot water into the side of the roasting pan until the water reaches halfway up the side of the cake pan.
8. Bake cheesecake for 45 to 55 minutes or until center is still slightly wobbly.
9. Remove from oven and water bath and allow cheesecake to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a knife along the edge of the pan to ensure cheesecake doesn’t stick to sides when removing from pan.
10.  Allow cheesecake to cool for an hour. Place cheesecake in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 6 hours.
11. Once cheesecake has completely chilled, run a knife along the edge again.
12. With a platter ready, place a clean cake board over the top of the cheesecake and pan and quickly invert it onto the cake board. Tap the bottom of the pan to ensure nothing is sticking. Remove pan and replace with a platter before quickly, but carefully turning the cheesecake onto the platter and removing the cake board from the surface. (the removal process should take no more than 30 seconds)
13. Drizzle the top with honey, thickened fruit syrup or coulis, slice and serve.

Goat Cheese Rounds with Herbs and Flowers

These are so adorable. They are begging to be sniffed and marveled over, just before being popped into the mouth. And just in time, as the spring chevre season is just about upon us, with its velvety-creamy extra-rich fresh goat cheese! An extremely simple appetizer that you can customize to taste, this recipe and picture come to us from the Women’s Forum and Chef Didier. You can either shape the cheese into balls, or press them into a form and slice to the desired length.

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Chef Didier’s Goat Cheese Rounds

Ingredients:

  • Goat Cheese (chevre)
  • Olive Oil
  • Sprigs of various fresh garden herbs — sage, basil, thyme, rosemary, etc
  • Herbs in small dishes. Chef Didier is using cracked peppercorns, curry and hot paprika, but other flavorings can be used.
  • Fresh edible flowers if you like (marigold petals, nasturtium, honeysuckle, pansy, lilac, cornflowers)

Directions:

  1. Roll the goat cheese into small balls in your hands. Goat’s cheese is soft, so this won’t be difficult.
  2. Roll the balls in the bowls of herbs. Again, goat cheese is soft, so it will ‘pick up’ the herbs well.
  3. Place in a small jar. A standard jelly jar will do just fine.
  4. Place sprigs in the jar alongside the goat cheese balls.
  5. Pour olive oil over goat cheese rounds.

Goat Cheese Rounds As a Gift

Chef Didier makes every recipe he uses look easy, but this recipe for goat cheese rounds actually *is* easy. Since goat’s cheese is now found in the dairy section of many grocery stores, it isn’t hard to find. Goat cheese rounds are also fun to make, and don’t require a lot of cleaning up.

Like some of Chef Didier’s other recipes, goat cheese balls make a good gift. The sprigs make great decorations, and the herbs will add splashes of color. Even if someone isn’t a fan of goat’s cheese or goat’s milk, they will appreciate a gift that was made just for them!

Artichokes and Chevre on Puff Pastry

If you are feeling a little adventurous and want an impressive appetizer, you’ve come to the right blog post! This lovely, flaky layered wonder comes to us from Clothilde Dusoulier of Chocolate & Zucchini (via NPR!) and will be a crowning glory at your next cocktail or dinner party!

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(Serves 4 as a first course)

4 fresh globe artichokes (look for firm artichokes that feel heavy for their size, evenly colored and free of blemishes, with their leaves tightly closed) *

the juice from half a lemon

2.5 ounces fresh goat cheese

one sheet of puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

1 teaspoon dried thyme

olive oil

fleur de sel or kosher salt

Step 1 – Prepare the artichoke filling

Fill a bowl with enough water to cover the artichoke hearts, pour in the lemon juice and set aside. For each artichoke, snap off the bottom stem and then trim the tough leaves at the base and the tops of the leaves at the artichoke’s tip, roughly one-third. Remove the rest of the leaves carefully until you reach the choke, a dome of inedible fibers that protect the artichoke heart. Scrape it out with a melon baller or a spoon, taking care not to damage the heart underneath. Place the heart in the bowl of lemon water to prevent it from browning while you work on the rest of the artichokes.

Bring salted water (enough to cover the artichoke hearts) to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the artichoke hearts, bring back to a boil and cook for eight minutes. Drain and let cool.

Place the artichoke hearts, the fresh goat cheese and two teaspoons of olive oil in a food processor and pulse until combined but still slightly chunky. (This can also be done by hand with a fork.) Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Step 2 – Prepare the pastry

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Draw a 1.5” x 4” rectangle on a sheet of paper and cut it out. On a floured surface, gently roll the sheet of puff pastry to 10″ x 11″ or 12″ rectangle. Use the paper rectangle as a guide to cut out 12 equal pastry rectangles or bite-size squares with a sharp knife.

Transfer the pastry rectangles onto the cookie sheet, leaving them a little room to expand. Prick the rectangles with the tines of a fork (to prevent the dough from rising too much as it bakes), brush the rectangles with olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with thyme and fleur de sel. Put into the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes, until puffy and golden. Turn out on a rack to cool.

Step 3 – Assemble

Put two rectangles of pastry on a work surface. Spread each of them with a rounded tablespoon of filling, working carefully so as not to break or damage the pastry. Put them one on top of the other, top with a third rectangle and set aside. Repeat with the remaining rectangles and filling.

Serve immediately, with a few plum tomatoes (stem-on for a prettier effect) and a drizzle of vinaigrette.

* The intensity of taste in fresh artichokes is incomparable. But if they are hard to come by, you can substitute frozen artichoke hearts (these are usually sold uncooked and should be boiled just like fresh artichoke hearts), or marinated artichoke hearts from a jar (these are already cooked, simply drain and pat them dry).

Healthy Red Velvet Cake with Chevre Icing

Ok, enough of appetizers for a while, now we turn to my fave kind of recipe to make: DESSERT!

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I had stopped making red velvet cake because of the insane amount of red food coloring you have to put into the conventional batter. That is waaaaaay too much red dye #2 for anybody. So imagine my delight when this version crossed my desktop! Thank you thank you to Local Milk for the recipe and pic. I shall be making this soon!

This recipe yields 2 small bundts or one 2 layer 8” cake or about 20 cupcakes

The cake gets its intense red color from a combination of acid ingredients with raw cocoa and a reduced beet puree. You see, the reduction of the puree is necessary to produce an intense color with minimal amount of puree leading to a cake that’s more in line with the traditional red velvet texture and taste. AND it’s important that you use room temperature ingredients where noted, and that your flour be unbleached and your cocoa not be Dutch processed (alkalized). I also wouldn’t advise substituting milk for buttermilk. The acid in this cake is key!

Ingredients:

Cake

250 g ( 2 cups) unbleached all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp raw cocoa or unprocessed cocoa powder (nonalkalized)

100g (1/3 + 1/4 cup) coconut oil (refined), at room temp

50g (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temp

300 g  (1 1/4 cup) sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs, room temp

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp reduced beet puree (fully cool)

2.5 tsp champagne vinegar (or other white vinegar)

180 g (3/4 cup) buttermilk, at room temp

Goat cheese glaze

8 oz goat cheese, at room temp

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tsp thyme, finely minced & packed (optional)

Beet puree

3 small beets or 2 medium

1/2 cup water + 1/4 cup water

Cooking Directions:

Make Beet Puree…

Heat oven to 400°F. Wash beets thoroughly, scrubbing to remove any dirt. Line a small baking dish with tin foil, place beets along with water in the dish. Cover tightly with additional foil and bake for one hour or until beets are completely tender when pierced. Using a paper towel and being careful to not burn yourself, wipe off the skin—it’ll come right off! Cut beets into chunks. Place beets along with the leftover beet water in the bottom of the pan and the additional 1/4 cup of water into a food processor or blender (I use my mini processor). Puree completely until absolutely no lumps remain. Press this puree through a sieve, discarding any pulp that doesn’t pass through. and into a small sauce pan. Simmer the beet puree until reduced, about ten minutes. You should have a little over 1/4 cup by the end. Place reduced beet puree in a bowl and set aside to cool completely while you make your cake.

Make Cake…

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease cake tin of your choice thoroughly with butter or organic cooking spray. If using traditional round tins, line bottom with parchment after greasing and then grease parchment.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and cocoa to combine thoroughly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream coconut oil, butter, salt, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl at the half way mark. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla and then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Mix until smooth and thoroughly combined. Scrape down bowl again, and add in beet puree and vinegar. Mix to combine thoroughly on low, again scraping down the bowl as needed.

With the mixer on low, add in the flour and buttermilk in three additions, alternating between the two, beginning with flour and ending on buttermilk and scraping down the bowl, making sure to scrape up the very bottom, as needed. Once just combined remove bowl from mixer and give it a stir gently with your spatula just to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed.

Fill cake tins no more than 1/2-3/4 the way full. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted in multiple places in the cake. Start checking at 25 for small cakes, 30 for thicker ones.

When done, remove cake from oven and allow to cool in tin on a rack for about 5-10 minutes. Turn cake out onto a plate and allow to cool fully before icing…or it will melt. If you only want a light glaze, you can put your icing on a warm cake, which is what I do. But if you want a thicker icing, definitely wait until totally cool!

While the cake cools…make the glaze:

In a medium bowl whisk the powdered sugar (and thyme, if you choose) into the goat cheese. It will turn into an icing consistency without any additional liquid added. Voila!

Comté, Dijon & Herb Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Jus

This elegant main course is perfect for entertaining! Comté or aged Goat Gouda gets mixed with Dijon mustard, herbs and shallots to create a succulent filling for pork tenderloin. A simple pan jus is just the right finish. The pork can be stuffed and tied up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate; then bring to room temperature and season before proceeding.

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Serves: 4

Oil for pan

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided

½ teaspoon each minced rosemary, thyme and sage

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced shallots, divided

4 ounces Comté or aged Goat Gouda, shredded (2 scant cups shredded)

1 ¼ pound pork tenderloin

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup dry white wine

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line large baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with oil.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, herbs, 1 teaspoon minced shallots and shredded Comté or Gouda to form thick paste.

Butterfly tenderloin by cutting a horizontal incision lengthwise three-fourths of the way through meat. Open meat up like a book; cover it with plastic wrap; and pound to ¼-inch thickness. Season inside with salt and pepper. Spread Dijon-Comté/Gouda mixture lengthwise down center, leaving ½-inch border on both sides. Roll up meat lengthwise; tie with butcher twine in 4-5 places. Season outside with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear tenderloin, seam side down, until browned, 4-5 minutes. Turn meat over and brown other side, 4-5 minutes. Place meat seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 145˚F on instant read thermometer. Transfer tenderloin to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain all but 1 teaspoon oil from skillet. Place skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon minced shallots. Cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits in pan. Boil until wine is reduced by half. Add chicken stock and reduce by half. Pour jus through fine-mesh strainer into small saucepan. Place saucepan over low heat and whisk in 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, along with butter. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, cut off string and slice pork crosswise into ½-inch slices; serve with Dijon Jus on side.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Comté Cheese Association, Nicki Sizemore